What remains if the decisive blow has been struck? We must occupy the land. We must proclaim the emancipation to Satan’s captives. We must declare the means of freedom, the gospel, the defeat of Satan, and the victory of Christ in His death and resurrection. We participate in that ancient victory, for its proclamation is still unfinished. It is still news that many captives have not heard.

The offensive in the spiritual war is to be carried out by two very basic means: preaching and prayer. Preaching, when done in the power of the Holy Spirit, is an engagement on the spiritual plane.

Other powers are in conflict besides the speaker and the listeners. In 2 Timothy 2 we can see four participants in the conflict: the Lord’s servant, the opponent, God, and the devil.

“Have nothing to do with stupid, senseless controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kindly to every one, an apt teacher, forbearing, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant that they will repent and come to know the truth, and they may escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will” (2 Tim. 2:23–26).

When the Christian teaches in the power of the Holy Spirit, he does it without quarreling. The strife is on the spiritual plane. He teaches with gentleness.

The offensive in preaching is commanded in many places in the New Testament. One of the more dynamic expressions is the word of the angel who opened the prison doors in Acts 5:20 and said, “Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this Life.”

Praying in the Holy Spirit is also commanded in the New Testament. Two of these examples are:

“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, godly and respectful in every way. This is good, and it is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, the testimony to which was borne at the proper time” (1 Tim. 2:1–5).

“Pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that utterance may be given me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak” (Eph. 6:18–20).

Notice this. The first text says, “First of all,” and the last is the concluding thought of the paragraph that starts, “Finally” (v. 10). “First” and “finally”—that is the order of prayer. Then notice that both of these paragraphs on prayer have to do with evangelism. When we pray in the Spirit, we and others will preach in the Spirit boldly. Ephesians 6:10–20 is very clear teaching on spiritual warfare, and prayer is the final part of it. What Paul teaches in these three verses he practices in the earlier chapters where his own prayers are recorded (Eph. 1:16–21 and 3:14–19).

These prayers are for Christians. His prayer requests are also for Christians. We have few passages in the New Testament on prayer for unbelievers; four that I have found are: Jesus’ prayer on the cross (Luke 23:34), Stephen’s dying prayer (Acts 7:60), Paul’s prayer for his countrymen (“Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved” [Rom. 10:1, rsv]), and the 1 Timothy passage quoted earlier. All of these are evangelistic prayers. The prayers and prayer requests for Christians are more numerous, and they also have to do with the proclamation of the gospel, as in Ephesians 6:20: “that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.” 

In Matthew 9, when Jesus saw the multitudes and had compassion on them, He commanded, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest” (Matt. 9:37–38). Again, it is evangelism. We take the offensive under orders, praying and preaching in the Holy Spirit. Our objective is people: individuals, cities, and nations. The enemy holds them captive at his own will. Then let us move out; let us advance toward the objective, praying and preaching.

*Excerpted from Principles of War. To purchase, visit ccmbooks.org/bookstore.